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Opinion: Who Is ALEC?

The Buck Starts Here

Outsourcing has become a major theme in the Presidential campaign. For most Americans the idea of having their job outsourced is their worst nightmare.

Not so for Republican Governors and legislatures across the country. They have outsourced the burdensome job of writing legislation to a group called the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

In school this would be called plagiarism. In right wing politics, this is a ticket to the next office. ALEC serves as the nexus between corporations and aspiring Republicans always eager to find access to additional campaign cash. It serves as a fertile cross breeding opportunity for lobbyists and legislators.

ALEC allows corporate lobbyist to write model legislation that is then introduced by state legislators as their own work. Funded and controlled by corporate interests, ALEC members pay for a seat at the table in order to introduce bills at ALEC conferences.

One of the areas that ALEC has focused attention is on writing the model voter supression laws that have been introduced across the country in the past two years.

Of course ALEC isn't just in the business of voter suppression. They are also very keen on allowing corporations vastly more influence in the political process.

According to the People for The American Way, who tracks the work of the right-wing group, ALEC's Public Safety and Elections taskforce, co-chaired by Sean Parnell of the Center for Competitive Politics, is "one of the most vociferous pro-corporate election groups, and promotes model legislation that would devastate campaign finance reform and allow for greater corporate influence in elections."

This is the virtuous cycle for ALEC's corporate partners and the legislators willing to do the bidding of ALEC rather than the bidding of their constituents: ALEC creates a more favorable climate for their lobbyists to write the law and the lawmakers act as straw men for the lobbyists and protect their incumbency. Mitt Romney's 2011 statement to an Iowa critic that "corporations are people to, my friend" could easily serve as ALEC's motto.

More accurately, the logic of this belief system is that corporations deserve a greater role in the public space than students, African Americans, Hispanics, women and the elderly – all targets of ALEC and the New Suppresionists.

In 2006, Karl Rove implored conservatives to take up voter fraud as an issue and ALEC became the vehicle. Rove is uniquely qualified in American politics when it comes to voter suppression as the architect of the Bush campaign's efforts to remove "felons" from the voting rolls.

Karl Rove, who continues to personally benefit from the funders of ALEC through his SuperPAC network, is the Godfather of the New Suppressionists.

His efforts and the work of ALEC in the state legislatures show that the fight for the right to vote is under more attack now than at any time since the Voting Rights Acts was passed in 1965.

About Bill Buck

Bill Buck is a Democratic strategist, President of the Buck Communications Group, a media relations and new media strategies consulting business based in Washington, DC, and Managing Director of the online ad firm Influence DSP. He has over twenty years of international and national communications experience. The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of CBS Local.


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